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Rocío Esquibel is a girl growing up in a Southern New Mexico town with her mother and sister. She defines her neighborhood by its trees—the willow, the apricot and the one they call the marking tree. Rocío knows she was born in the bedroom closet where she and her sister now take turns looking at the painting of Jesus whose eyes light up in the dark. She lives another life in her dreams; when she wanders the basement alone at night she enters a magical realm, and her imaginary Blue Room is big enough for her to fly from one end to the other.
A novel in stories, The Last of the Menu Girls was first published by a small press in 1986. Rocío Esquibel was one of the first voices of Chicana literature, and the story of her growth as a writer and a woman has been cherished by readers and frequently anthologized. The title story, about a girl who distributes menus in a hospital and learns to live among the dying, is in the Norton Anthology of American Literature. Celebrated for its portrait of a working class Mexican-American community, the book is also a universal story of finding one’s way in the world.
For this edition Denise Chávez has rearranged and edited the stories so they read more like a novel, without changing the spirit of a book that has become a classic.
“Written in English with extensive use of Spanish expressions, this volume represents a valuable contribution to Chicano literature now being recognized for its literary quality in the U.S. and Europe.”—Choice
“Very fine, touching short stories . . . The only disappointing thing about this book is that there are only seven.” —Books of the Southwest
“A richness of texture and image . . .these stories present a clear glimpse into the world of New Mexico, of Hispanic customs and wisdoms, the grace that may, and did, come with a hard living.” —Santa Fe New Mexican
“Chávez draws carefully detailed, emotionally convincing portraits of the lives of ordinary people.” —Newsday